When I was in my thirties, I went to a family wedding in California. The next day my husband, our three little kids and I headed to Disneyland. Guess who was most excited on the drive down the coast.
Never been before. Couldn’t wait to go.
The Disneyland in my mind glowed with all the colors of the rainbow. Bottom line, I had no concept of the power of the California sun.
What was the first thing I noticed when we walked through the gate?
All those rainbow colors looked as if they needed some kind of pigment transfusion. I pushed the baby stroller past the muted greens, yellows, reds and blues and headed to the “It’s a Small world After All” ride. That’s when I almost broke down and cried. The music sounded like it had been recorded in a seedy Burger King restroom. The characters spinning in and out of the castle wall just plain creeped me out.
Maybe if I had been a little younger – like four or five years old – my experience would have been different.
Truth is, I fell about halfway between postpartum and premenopausal. Sort of like living in the eye of the storm. If I was going to enjoy Disneyland, now was the time.
So, I pushed the baby stroller even faster as I
- dragged my family
- deeper into the happiest place on earth
- in hopes of finding the magic I had imagined all my growing up years.
When we found Snow White, Cinderella and Prince Charming, everything just fell apart. My middle son, who barely talked to strangers, followed these creatures around like they were oversized kittens. My oldest son was absolutely terrified.
“They’re gonna to kidnap my brother,” he screamed over and over, “They’ll take him away.”
Maybe he knew something I didn’t know about the seedy underbelly of the Greatest Place on Earth. Who knows? At the moment, “Away” was the operative word. My husband and I herded our kids away from the Disney characters while happy families from every corner of civilization stared at us in pity.
Talk about disappointment.
There. I said it.
I was disappointed in Disneyland. I know, I know. It’s like being unimpressed with the Grand Canyon or bored with the Northern lights. But, I had expected more out of this land of amusement and wonder.
And I got nothing.
That is until we discovered Toad’s wild ride. My oldest son and I climbed into one of Toad’s funky little motorcars. We held on while the vehicle twisted and turned through the parlor and the library. Somewhere in between the fireplace and the dining room everything changed. My stranger-danger obsessed son laughed and giggled. I couldn’t help but muster up a grin myself.
We were having fun.
Obviously, I got over my disappointment that day. If only the rest of life were so easy. But, life is full of disappointments. Most of them are far more profound than the dashed hopes of a middle-aged wide-eyed Disneyland groupie wanna-be.
We all have
- expectations for our future that include some type of happiness.
When things fall apart, it’s painful. Sometimes it’s so painful we wonder if allowing ourselves to feel it could ultimately destroy us.
So we avoid the pain by
- medicating our way to oblivion,
- working ourselves into a mindless existence,
- or entertaining ourselves into a frenzy.
Not exactly the topic of polite conversation. Disappointment. Pain. Wanting to just disappear.
But, it’s a part of life, this pain. Settling into it’s reality can be horrible and surreal at the same time. The ups and downs of our grief can take us on a ride much wilder than Mr. Toad ever imagined.
But’s also a breathtaking revelation of truth found in unexpected places. It’s a slow walk through the land of the broken. A sacred place.
God is there.